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Embroidered waistcoat

Linen embroidered woman's jacket, English, about 1615–18

Linen embroidered woman's jacket, English, about 1615–18

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Woman's bodice or waistcoat in linen embroidered with light blue, cream, light green, pink red and yellow silk, silver and silver-gilt threads and spangles worked predominately in corded detached buttonhole and plaited braid stitch with satin and sword edging and woven wheel stitch in a rinceau pattern of repeated flowers, including roses, borage and blue bells, foliage, butterflies and caterpillars within curling stems outlined with small red stitches. Small, turned down collar at back, fitted bodice constructed with three panels, each side and centre back, fastening at centre front with twenty-one hooks and eyes, three of dark-grey metal may be original, the remainder in brass wire are later replacements. Full-length sleeves with epaulette caps at shoulders and turned back cuffs. Short flared skirts with V-shaped gored panels over hips outlined in gold. Lined throughout with linen.

The pattern of brightly coloured flowers, here with caterpillars and butterflies, set within coils of plaited braid stitch was very popular. This specific design appears on a waistcoat on loan to the Fashion Museum, Bath. Variations of this rinceau design appear on other embroidered women’s waistcoats and coifs of this period including one worn by Margaret Layton of Rawdon (1569-1662), the wife of a Yorkshire landowner, which is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London with an accompanying portrait.

The waistcoat was purchased by Sir William Burrell from the London art dealers Frank Partridge and Sons in 1930.

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